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When They See Us: Beyond Race & Reality

June has been a pretty hectic month for binge-watchers, with Netflix releasing numerous shows and movies. However, amidst all the chaos and confusion of entertainment, Netflix released a 4 episode mini-series titled When They See Us. The show recreates the horrors of Parkland Central Park Jogger case, that’s how the case had come to be defined in 1989. The infamous case, which saw the conviction of 5 black teens being overturned after they had completed their sentences. However, what makes this show stand apart is its hard-hitting, gut-wrenching reality and the fact that the show dissociates itself from political or philosophical affiliation and depicts the case in the true light.

Spoilers ahead, so if you haven't watched the show yet or don’t know about the case, we suggest you do not read this.

The night of April 19, 1989
The New York City back then was infamous for increasing cases of rape and violence against women. On a usual night of April 19, 1989, a group of black teens barged into Central Park, creating a ruckus, or wilding, as mentioned in the official report. There were reported cases of robbery, assault on civilians. The police intervened to arrest 30 black teens for attacking the people in the park. However, around 1 pm, Police discovered the body of a female, who was assaulted, raped and left to die. The Police started interrogating the teens who were between 14-16 years old. Later, with coerced testimonies and forced statements, the Police and DA prosecuted 5 teens for the assault, rape and attempted murder of the woman jogger, Trisha Meili.

When They See Us Shows The Flailing Justice System
The brilliant cast and visionary director managed to depict the scene of the night of arrest beautifully. The teens who were 14 years old were arrested and questioned for hours without any food, water or guardian around. In the meantime, Police managed to coerce the 5 alleged teens into a forced statement, which was the base for the state’s case. When They See Us on Netflix shows how the prejudice of the law enforcement agency took them on a different path, far away from justice. The lead detective on the case, Linda Fairstein used the methods which can be termed unethical, to make the case. Despite contrary evidence exonerating the teens, the detective chose to ignore them to make a case blaming the teens for everything. Despite no DNA evidence or eye-witness, the 5 teens were found guilty by the jury. All of them served their sentence in prison, ranging between 5-15 years.

Where does When They See Us Shine?
Gruesome cinematography alongside excellent acting ensured that the audience was fully committed to the show. However, the fact that the narration chose to political neutral and apologetic with its reality made this show stand apart. The term racism or discrimination was not once mentioned in the show and it was a near perfect description of the actual incidents. This has caused supporters of all political parties and ideology to come in support of the show and the Parkland Five. Also, it’s one of its kind show which talks about the lack of rehabilitation options for convicted felons. Despite where you stand on the philosophical spectrum, you will wish to join the cause of an unbiased judicial system.

Why should you watch When They See Us on Netflix?
If we wish for injustice to go away, we need to know how it works. For that, the privileged section needs to see how a vulnerable individual can be tormented by the system. This mini-series on Netflix helps us do exactly that. Also, the ability of the show to not go into name calling and terming things, despite its obvious presence makes you realise the truth. While you are watching the show, you would constantly realize how racism was propagated yet creators, not for once, used the term racism.